Bhubaneswar: The authorities of Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district have sought wildlife experts’ help as several big cats were spotted with black-coloured skins.
The authorities are eager to know the reasons behind the change in the skin colours of the tigers at Similipal, sources said.
The STR authorities sought wildlife experts’ help after they spotted several tigers with black-coloured skins through camera traps, sources added.
It is believed that either gene mutation or any disease caused by infections could be behind the change in skin colours of the tigers at Similipal.
Similipal is the only tiger habitat in the world to have the rare melanistic (black) tigers. It is believed that around 37 per cent tigers at STR have broad black stripes running across their bodies and thicker than those seen in normal tigers.
As per a report of the Centre, the big cat population at Similipal has gone up to 16 in 2021-22 from the previous estimated figure of 8 in 2018. Similipal has been recognized as one of the 12 best managed tiger reserves in India.
However, the STR authorities have recently spotted at least 15 tigers with black-coloured skins through camera traps, sources said.
A team of wildlife experts from Bangalore are now conducting their studies to find out the reason behind the change in the skin colours of the big cats at the reserve, sources added.
“The research by the wildlife experts will reveal us the reason behind the change in the skin colours of tigers,” said Similipal Tiger Reserve Field Director Prakash Chand Gogineni.
Notably, Similipal first reported the presence of melanistic tigers in 2007.